Thursday, 19 February 2015

Chapter Twenty Five

Chapter Twenty Five

We pick up with Ana leaving Georgia and heading back to Seattle. She has a little cry with her Mum before she gets on the plane, and gets to thinking about motherly love.

“What does Christian know of love?” she speculates. “Seems he didn’t get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years.” I wish the book actually went into this type of thing in more detail because at the moment it sounds like she’s conflating childhood abuse with sexual fetishes or preferences later in life. She’s basically saying that if you suffer from child abuse in your early life, you’ll grow up to be just like Christian Grey – which I’m pretty sure is not at all true.

Of course, Ana finds all that kind of stuff boring. She just wants to think about relationship kinda stuff. “It’s very simple: I want his love. I need Christian Grey to love me,” she thinks to herself as she sits herself down in her first class seat on the plane. Let’s get this straight – if you need someone to love you, you shouldn’t be in a relationship. If you need someone else’s love to define yourself, you shouldn’t be in a relationship. What’s that phrase – in order to love someone, you need to love yourself? Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Ana starts emailing Christian from the plane - pretty sure you’re not allowed to do that. Christian tell her as much, and he seems to be in a pretty formal mood.

“Crap. Okay. Jeez. What is eating him?” Ana panics. “Maybe Taylor’s gone AWOL, maybe he’s dropped a few million on the stock market – whatever the reason.” Yeah, probably dropped a couple of mill on the markets. He’ll have to make an angry phone call talking to some more imaginary people in hopeless business-speak to sort it out. Get some blue-sky thinking on the go.

The plane takes off and Ana starts to get a little suspicious of the empty seat next to her. “I become aware that once again the only empty seat is beside me. I shake my head as the thought crosses my mind that Christian might have purchased the adjacent seat so that I couldn’t talk to anyone.” THAT’S IT. That’s exactly what he’s done. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if he’s booked every single seat on the plane to make sure she’s alone – that’s how weird and controlling and scary this guy is.

Ana emerges in the terminal later that day to find Christian’s bodyguard waiting with a sign for her. She has a bit of an awkward interaction with the guy, and remembers that Christian had to send him out to buy underwear for her once. “In fact – and the thought unsettles me – he’s the only man who’s ever bought me underwear. Even Ray’s never had to endure that hardship.” AGAIN with the stepdad stuff! Has anyone questioned E. L. James about Ana’s background at all?

Taylor (bodyguard man) drives Ana back to Seattle. Ana tries to find out what’s eating Christian, but all Taylor will give away is that Christian is ‘preoccupied’. Cryptic.

Ana asks the driver to put on some music. “Something soothing,” she specifically requests. “Pachelbel’s Canon fills the space between us. Oh yes… this is what I need.” Hahaha. Has anyone ever listened to Pachelbel’s Canon and thought, “Oh yes…?” No, me neither.

Taylor doesn’t even drive Ana home, he takes her straight to Christian’s place. Ana’s really nervous as she takes the lift up to his floor. “Why am I so nervous? And I know it’s because I have no idea what kind of mood Christian’s going to be in when I arrive.” Urgh. Ladies, if you panic before you see your boyfriend because you’re worried about the kind of mood he’ll be in, leave him!! I beg you!

When she reaches the top, Christian is talking on the phone, all agitated and tense. When he sees Ana, he hangs up on whichever important imaginary person he’s chatting to and strides right over to her.

Holy shit… something’s amiss – the strain in his jaw, the anxiety around his eyes. He shrugs out of his jacket, undoes his dark tie, and slings them both on to the couch en route to me. Then his arms are wrapped around me, and he’s pulling me to him, hard, fast, gripping my ponytail to tilt my head up, kissing me like his life depends on it.” Bet you can’t guess what’s going to happen next!

Christian orders – yep, orders – Ana to take a shower with him. They undress, he goes down on her a little bit, they have some 100% standard shower sex, and that’s it. You know, when I first heard about this book, I was promised a serious kink-fest. Everything that’s happened so far has been so lame and vanilla, I don’t know how anyone can pretend this is a book about BDSM.

They wash together in the shower and Ana starts telling Christian about her new job. By this point it’s less 50 Shades of Grey and more 50 Shades of Middle-Aged Marriage. Ana says she’s surprised Christian doesn’t already know where her new job is, based on the spectacular stalking abilities he’s showcased so far.

“Anastasia, I wouldn’t dream of interfering in your career, unless you ask me to, of course,” says Christian, looking ‘wounded’. Urgh, what a dick. I wouldn’t dream of interfering with your career… we’ll come back to this later.

Christian says he knows there are four publishing houses in Seattle, and Ana tells him her new job is at SIP. “Oh, the small one, good. Well done,” says Christian. Yeah, so glad you didn’t get a job at a big publishing house – wouldn’t want you getting any ideas about ambition or career progression. I want to keep you meek and mild-mannered and here with me, thanks.

Ana also has a request for Christian – she wants to know if he’ll go to Jose’s (Jacob – remember him) photography show in Portland. Christian gets all tense but agrees to go – as long as they take the helicopter. Ostentatious twat. Then he tells Ana to turn around and fucks her again. Sigh.

Later on, they’re sitting at the breakfast bar eating some pasta, sipping some wine, nice and casual. Ana asks Christian about the ‘situation’ that took him back to Seattle so early. He says it’s getting out of control, then shrugs her off and tells her to be ready in his playroom in 15 minutes. Ohmygodguys, just what we’ve been waiting for… another sex scene!

“You can get ready in your room. Incidentally, the walk-in closet is now full of clothes for you. I don’t want any arguments about them,” says Christian. ARGH.

“Car, phone, computer… clothes, it’ll be a damn condo next, and then I really will be his mistress,” muses Ana. Erm… do you want to tell her, or should I?

Ana goes to check her brand new wardrobe out. “It resembles Kate’s,” is her first thought. OF COURSE IT FUCKING DOES.

The narrative skips a bit, and then Ana is waiting in the Womb Room, kneeling on the floor wearing nothing but her knickers. Christian walks in and ignores Ana. He’s wearing his ripped jeans again.

"Hi, I'm Christian Grey."

He tells Ana to stand up and wants to reiterate a really important point. They don’t yet have a signed contract, but he wants her to remember their ‘safe words’. The safe words are yellow and red – yellow signifies that the sub is close to her limit, and red signifies that the sub won’t tolerate any further demands. Totally straightforward and fair.

Christian tells Ana that what he’s going to do to her will be intense. He says that he’s going to blindfold her and turn the music up, so she won’t be able to see or hear him – only feel. “A musical interlude, not what I was expecting. Does he ever do what I expect? Jeez, I hope it’s not rap.” OH MY GOD I SO HOPE IT’S A RAP.



He ties her to his red satin bed (with the posts that have outstanding craftsmanship, obv), puts an eye mask on her and puts some earphones in. She can’t move, she can’t see him, she can’t hear him. He puts on some music. I am absolutely gutted to report that it’s not rap. It’s some classical choral music. “Holy cow, a celestial choir,” notes Ana. If I have to hear the phrase ‘Holy cow’ one more time I might let a cow sit on me. End it all right now.

Christian starts rubbing her with something furry, and hitting her lightly with a flogger, which he said would bring the blood up to the surface and make her more sensitive. This scene goes on forever. Pages and pages of Ana panting and writhing. It’s kinda boring, but probably the closest the book has come so far to actually being sexy. Then someone has to ruin it.

Ana asks Christian what the music was that she was listening to. “It’s called Spem In Alium, or the Forty Part Motet, by Thomas Tallis. I’ve always wanted to fuck to it.” HAHAHAHA. Nothing like listening to some great choral music and thinking man, I would love to get laid to this. Hahahaha!

Christian starts rubbing her shoulders and Ana manages to get him to tell her what she said in her sleep that time (remember that? No me neither. I don’t care). He says she mumbled something about strawberries and a cage, and something about missing him.

Ana – who is obviously panicking that she might have said ‘I love you’ in her sleep – is relieved. “Is that all?” she asks. Christian gets suspicious. “What did you think you’d said?” he asks. Ana shrugs it off. Christian says he’ll have to torture it out of her. HE’S BEING SERIOUS THOUGH. RUN FOR IT.

Orgasm count: I’ve lost count and can’t be bothered to tot them up. Now I know how E. L. James must feel.

---

Only one more chapter to go! Thanks to everyone who has read up until now - I'm as yet undecided as to whether I'll carry on after this book (I'm sure you understand. The source material is SO bad) but I'm always eager to hear what people think of this! Thanks again x

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Chapter Twenty Four

"Christian stands in a steel-barred cage. Wearing his soft, ripped jeans, his chest and feet
are mouthwateringly naked, and he’s staring at me."

Hold up. Let's go back a little bit.


"... [his] feet are mouthwateringly naked." There's a phrase I bet you didn't think you'd read today. His feet are mouthwateringly naked - not your standard, regular kind of naked, but mouthwateringly so. She must be really into this guy. This is the beginning of a dream sequence which is all kinds of embarrassing.


Ana is woken from her dream at 5.30am by Christian, who switches on the sidelight because he wants to 'chase the dawn' with her. Imagine being woken up that early to 'chase the dawn'. I think my first instinct would be something along the lines of FUCK OFF.



I woke up like dis.

Christian tells Ana to get up because they're going out. "Don’t bother to shower," he says, "We can do that later.”

No! You can not do that later! She is on her period! I believe the standard protocol at this delicate time is to shower as often as possible, especially after you've just been stewing the night away (probably naked) in your boyfriend's bed!


Ana sensibly goes to wash up in the bathroom and emerges to find Christian having breakfast. Ana's so shocked by someone eating breakfast at such an early hour, she reacts as though she's just walked in to find him nibbling on his housekeeper. Christian tries to force her to eat, which is weird in all kinds of ways, but Ana's having none of it.


After convincing him she'll eat later, he throws her a jumper and they head down to the hotel car park, where the valet hands him the keys to a soft top sports car.


“You know, sometimes it’s great being me,” says Christian. What a smug prick.


They get in his car and start listening to some opera, as you do when you're cruising along at 6am. It's from an opera adapted from a story about a 'doomed courtesan' and obviously Ana has read the book because she's such a literary expert. Then Ana gets hold of Christians iPod and the real laughs begin.


"Christian Grey’s iPod, this should be interesting. I scroll through the touch screen, and find the perfect song. I press play. I wouldn’t have figured him for a Britney fan. The club-mix, techno beat assaults us both, and Christian turns the volume down. Maybe it’s too early for this: Britney’s at her most sultry."


HahahahaHA! He's got Britney Spears on his iPod! HAHA! And apparently Toxic has a 'club-mix, techno beat'. Does E. L. James listen to any music?


This is too amazing to be true. No, it genuinely is. Much as I'd love for Christian Grey to be a closet Britney stan, he admits that he didn't put the song on his iPod - it was Layla, an ex-sub of his. It turns out that they ended because she wanted more between them - she wanted more of a relationship.


Ana pushes Christian about his previous relationships.


“Okay. In no particular order, I’ve only had long term relationships with four women,

apart from Elena.”
“Elena?”
“Mrs. Robinson to you.” He half smiles his secret private joke smile. Elena! Holy Fuck. The evil one has a name and its all-foreign sounding.

It's all foreign-sounding?! What in blue fuck is this supposed to mean? First of all, in what world does 'Elena' sound foreign? And secondly, why does Ana perceive it to be at all relevant? I'm literally so confused by this part - are we supposed to conflate foreigners with evil?


They talk a little more about his exes. The majority of his relationships ended because the sub wanted 'more'. It doesn't specify whether the Britney playlist played any part in the matter. Maybe they found out about Christian's tendency to keep used condoms in his pocket.


They turn into an airfield because Christian wants them to go 'soaring'. Ugh, what an embarrassing phrase. 

At the airfield, Ana observes that the sky has changed colour, and is 'glowing softly behind the sporadic childlike clouds'. Nope. How can clouds be childlike? Are they shaped like actual children? I have absolutely no idea what kind of image she's trying to convey here. That's like saying 'My meal had childlike sprouts scattered all over it'.


Christian's co-pilot is called Benson. Ana starts reeling off flying details that nobody cares about. "We will be in a Blanik L-23, which is apparently better than the L-13, although this is open to debate. Benson will be flying a Piper Pawnee. He’s been flying tail draggers for about five years now. It all means nothing to me." No, me neither. Maybe shut up, then?


They take off in the Piper Pawnee. "The radio crackles into life, and Mark mentions 3,000 feet. Jeez, that sounds high." Yeah, no shit. Apparently Ana has got a degree. You'd never know from this God-awful narrative. The entire flight thing is incredibly boring and does nothing to further the plot except showcase the fact that Christian is really, obscenely rich. Even when they land the glider in a remote field, he just fucking leaves it there like his maid will fly it home for him.


They get out of the plane, smooch for a bit by the side of the plane (Christian gets an erection from one kiss because the man's clearly an addict and needs to get help) and head for breakfast somewhere. 


"I have never seen him like this, and it’s a joy to behold. I find myself walking beside him, hand in hand, with a stupid, goofy grin plastered on my face. It reminds me of when I was ten and spending the day in Disneyland with Ray." Eugh. Please tell me she didn't just liken a sexy, romantic, erection-inducing flying experience to going to Disneyworld with her dad?! I'm sensing a real undercurrent of tension between Ana and Ray. Anyone else?

"Back in the car, as we head back along I-95 towards Savannah, my phone alarm goes

off. Oh yes… my pill.
“What’s that?” Christian asks, curious, glancing at me.
I fumble in my purse for the packet.
“Alarm for my pill,” I mutter as my cheeks flush.
His lips quirk up.
“Good, well done. I hate condoms.”"

ARGH. For the love of GOD, ladies - don't let your man hating condoms be the only reason you go on the pill. Do it because you want control over your reproductive system, do it because you want to reign in your hormones, but don't, whatever you do, go on the pill just because your man doesn't feel like wrapping it up. That's the kind of comment you'd expect from a 17-year-old kid, not some supposedly mature businessman with years of experience. I really do hate this book.


(Also - really, really sick of being constantly reminded about periods, condoms, contraception, pregnancy and the like. This is not erotica - it's just some woman's stream-of-consciousness fantasy that hasn't been structured or planned beforehand. She's just writing it up as it comes to her. It's shite.)


They go for pancakes at IHOP. Christian says that he already knows what he wants, and Ana responds with, "I want what you want." Really? Are we trying to make pancakes sexy now? The waitress comes over to take the order and, just like every woman in the book, the country, the world, she's transfixed by Christian. He orders their meal and she squeaks and scurries off, because apparently, all women confronted by a good-looking man turn to mush in an instant.


They start to negotiate the terms of the contract in more detail. Ana wants to sleep in bed with Christian. She wants to be treated more as an equal than a sub, but then Ana offers to pay for the pancakes and Christian says it makes him feel 'emasculated'. Was this written in 2010 or 1910? In what world are men still emasculated by a woman buying a meal for them? 


Christian drives Ana back to her mum's house - he doesn't ask the address, he already knows it. CREEPY. 





He kisses her goodbye and says he'll see her later - he's coming round for dinner, remember? Ana's mum is stressing out about entertaining a multi-zillionaire in her house, but it wouldn't actually surprise me too much if Christian brought his own personal chef in tow. She needn't panic.


Ana emails Christian, who tells her that she was talking her in sleep and it was very interesting. I bet you a thousand quid it's not at all interesting.


Later, as Ana is out browsing for food to cook for Christian, she gets a call about the job interview she went for, with another obscenely rich, arrogant guy who can't seem to get enough of her. She got the job! Yay! But as she gets off the phone, she notices a missed call from Christian. She calls him back and discovers he has to go back to Seattle for something urgently. Ana freaks out and thinks it must be something to do with Mrs Robinson, it just must. She wishes she could have been a fly on the wall - perhaps landing on her wine glass and choking Elena to death. I wish I could be a fly, because don't those things have like a fifteen minute lifespan? It'd save me from this damn novel.


Ana and her family have a barbecue that night, and Ana just emails Christian throughout. Like, when does this girl ever do anything that isn't related to Christian? Does she ever read? Catch up on current events? Paint her toenails? Watch TV? Talk to her family?


Ana begs Christian to tell her what she said in her sleep. He says no, because he'd prefer her to say it in consciousness first. Ana growls at him and Christians says he possesses a cat of his own for growlers. Wink wink. Ana's all like, he has a cat? I've never seen one in his apartment... oh Ana.


Orgasm count: None! Hallelujah! A chapter devoted to character development! Kind of...

Number of mouthwateringly naked feet: 2

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Chapter Twenty Three

We last left our heroine on the other side of the country, being stalked by the man who has flown for thousands of miles to see (supervise) her because he can’t bear to leave her alone for twenty-four hours.

“I have neglected to mention Christian’s stalker tendencies to my mom,” says Ana. Huh. You’d think that’d be one of the first things you’d mention about your new bf, but whatever. Ana eventually spots Christian and he saunters over. Naturally (and disappointingly) her mother’s jaw hits the floor. Is there a single woman in this book who can hold a conversation with this man without melting into a pile of wibble on the floor? Sheesh.

Ana notices that Christian seems tense; mad, almost. She wonders whether it’s because she mentioned ‘Mrs Robinson’, or could it be the fact she’s on her fourth Cosmo? She’s actually wondering whether this stalker is mad at her for having four (yes FOUR – book her into AA stat) alcoholic drinks. “I’m drinking with my mother, there’s no way he can be angry about that…” muses Ana. You’re right, girl. But I’m sure he’ll find a way to justify it.

Christian starts flirting with the two of them and all he has to do is touch Ana’s hand before she’s whinging about how much she wants him. Spare me. Ana’s mother excuses herself to the powder room and Ana decides to come right out with what’s bothering her.

“I think of [Mrs Robinson] as a child molester, Christian.” No build up, no easing into this tricky subject – she’s just putting it right out there. Christian gets a bit sniffy and says it wasn’t at all like that, and calls Ana judgemental, which she is, but you know, I think you’re allowed to get a bit judgey where underage sex is concerned.

Ana being the nitwit she is, instead of discussing the topic like an adult and trying to understand Christian’s point of view, starts whinging about how it makes her jealous. But Christian tells her he’s business partners with the woman, and has been friends with her for years. Ana comes right out and calls Mrs Robinson a paedophile, and you’re suddenly aware that our heroine is a rare breed – a childish hypocrite with disposable morals and a very narrow mind. When it comes to Christian and his questionable morals tugging on her pubes and tying her up, everything’s all fine and dandy, but the thought of anyone else doing the same? NOPE.

Ana’s mother comes back from the toilets and says something about the ‘UST’ being unbearable. In case you’re in the dark, UST is a fanfiction acronym for ‘unresolved sexual tension’ – and is definitely not something that people say in everyday life. It’s kind of like asking someone A/S/L? to their face.

Christian disappears off and Ana’s mother urges Ana to chase desperately after him, like all self-respecting women should be encouraged to do when they’re mad about something. I know that when I’ve had an argument with someone and called their ex a paedophile, I always like to go running after them, shedding dignity like snakeskin, begging their forgiveness.

Ana goes to Christian’s room, he’s chatting away on his phone to imaginary people called ‘Bill’ and ‘Georgia’.  When he gets off the phone, instead of sitting down and talking it out – yep, you guessed it – things turn all slow and sensual again and they start referring to each other by their surnames like they’ve morphed into softcore porn actors.

Christian kind of ruins the moment by asking Ana if she’s bleeding, and suddenly I don’t want to read any further because I’m totally convinced that he’s going to pull out her tampon with his teeth or something. He asks her if she wants to get in the bath, which is somehow even more disgusting because the last thing you want to do when you’re on your period is stew in a bath filled with your own menstrual blood, WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND IN THERE TOO.

He starts undressing her and running the bath, and Ana can’t stop looking at the ‘libidinous woman in the mirror falling apart under her own hands’. Tell me ladies, do any of you feel like this when you’re on your period? When it’s that special time of the month, do you feel much like writhing around naked in front of your boyfriend, or do you want to put on your biggest knickers, eat ice cream and cry at animal adopted adverts on the TV? Yeah, that’s what I thought. But somehow, Ana is totally turned on.

Things are getting a bit out of hand again: “When did you start your period, Anastasia?” Christian asks. She tells him yesterday. Then he turns her around, pulls out her tampon and throws it in the toilet.



I’m sorry, WHAT NOW?

This is the actual excerpt for you, so you can just verify that I’m not making this up for sheer comedic / vomit-inducing content value.

“Hold onto the sink,” he orders, and pulls my hips back again, like he did in the playroom, so I’m bending down.
He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what!... And… a gently pulls out my tampon and throws it in the nearby toilet.



DO NOT WANT.

Listen, I’m not against having sex on your period, it’s total personal preference – that’s cool. But this is EROTICA. This is supposed to be a SEXY novel – there is nothing in this book to suggest this is meant to be perceived as realism, so why is there an excerpt where he actually pulls out her tampon? WHY? Why did this have to happen? I can only imagine that the braindead folk that enjoyed this book are reading it precisely to experience some kind of escape from their mundane life – they want thrilling, sensual sex scenes, THEY DON’T WANT TO READ ABOUT TAMPONS AND PERIOD SEX.

They have wild period sex. I can’t get into it because I’m sure there must be blood all over his beautiful clean hotel bathroom. They get in the bath – more grossness. Have a shower, please, it’s so much more hygienic in this situation. Now you’re not only stewing in menstrual blood, but sexual fluids too. This is so not turning me on.

Ana speculates that the scars on Christian’s chest are not from chicken-pox, and deduces that they must be cigarette burns from Mrs Robinson. Christian totally shuts down – he wants fuss-free period sex, not serious child abuse kinda talk. He tries to defend his previous lover by saying that if it weren’t for her, he’d have gone the way of his birth mother.

“Crack addict or whore? Possibly both?” Ana wonders to herself. Is this the way that all women are categorised in the 50 Shades world?

Christian quite clearly doesn’t want to talk about his old relationships, but Ana keeps pushing him. He eventually gets pretty mad, and Ana is all apologetic. “Jeez – maybe it’s the Cosmopolitans making me brave, but suddenly I cannot bear the distance between us.” (They’re across the bath tub from one another.)

He turns the table on Ana and starts quizzing her on their relationship – how she feels about him, why she never responded to his email. (Imagine flying across the country to ask your partner why they hadn’t replied to an email. IMAGINE.)


Ana gives him no straight answers and Christian speculates he might have to spank her again. They start kissing and things get all steamy again; before you know it, they’re having sex right there in the period bath.

Later on, they’re lay in Christian’s big bed talking about inconsequential things that don’t further the plot one little bit. They’re both naked – I sincerely hope she’s wearing a tampon. You’d assume that she must be, but you just can’t be sure in this messed up book.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Chapter Twenty Two

Ana gets to have a manicure and a massage as part of being in First Class, and then she sips a champagne cocktail and has the inspired idea of telling Christian about the smart young man who rubbed her down thoroughly. That’s a great idea, Ana. You spent the last chapter chastising your friend for winding up your jealous boyfriend because you were scared of the ramifications, and now you’re going to do it yourself? Why are you so stupid?

The flight attendant passes by and tells Ana she needs to stow her laptop for take-off, before offering a warm blanket for her knees. “It’s nice to feel mollycoddled sometimes,” observes Ana. SOMETIMES? Ana’s life is one long mollycoddle, from everyone in it, whether it’s Kate, Christian, Jose or this damn flight attendant.

““Cabin crew, doors to automatic and cross check.” What does that mean? Are they closing the doors?” Lord, give me strength the continue reading this book. The plane takes off, and Ana takes a sneak peek at her Blackberry. I am 100% sure they tell you not to do this in case you risk interfering with air traffic control signals? But who gives a shit about that - Ana’s demanding boyfriend has sent her an important email! 

Christian tells Ana that if she carries on making him jealous she’ll be bound and gagged in the cargo hold on her return journey. Rejoice, for romance is not dead.

Ana has a change in Atlanta, and while she waits in the departure lounge, she takes out her laptop and types a stream of consciousness email to Christian. I thought the whole book up to this point had been a stream of depressing consciousness, but I was sadly wrong. 

The email is a mess, she talks about how she’s ‘caught up in his spell’ and how she’s scared he will hurt her ‘physically and emotionally’. I can’t reiterate this enough: if you are scared that a man will hurt you ‘physically and emotionally’ you really need to get the hell out of there. No woman should have to live in fear that her boyfriend is going to harm her. She says she will scared she won’t be submissive enough for him and will end up ‘black and blue’. THIS IS NOT HOT.

So Ana finally arrives in Savannah and meets her Mom and Bob. She bursts out crying when she sees her family, for not really any reason at all, then she texts Kate, Christian and Ray. This is what it says: “Arrived Safely in Savannah. A J” Why is that capital letter there? Is this a song title? It honestly baffles me that someone with such a rudimentary grasp of grammar and the English language could have written and published not one, but three best-selling novels.

Ana and her Mom head to the beach when she arrives. “I am in my blue halter neck tankini, sipping a Diet Coke, on a sun bed facing the Atlantic Ocean, and to think that only yesterday I was staring out at the Sound toward the Pacific.” That’s sort of how planes work. You get on one, and then when you get off, you’re not in the same place that you were. It’s not really that hard to grasp.

Ana’s psychic Mom magically predicts that Ana is seeing someone and demands to know who has got her in ‘such a spin’. Ana tells her Mom about Christian (leaving out all the parts she would definitely want to know), and instead saying, “He’s wealthy… too wealthy. He’s very complicated and mercurial.” Who even talks like that? If I told my Mum that my boyfriend was ‘complicated and mercurial’ she would probably ask if that meant he was poisonous. 

Ana’s mother gives her a load of advice about taking men literally and trying not to analyse everything they say. “I gaze at my mom. She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.” Is this supposed to be sarcastic or is this just a really bad joke? I’d say being on her fourth marriage would mean she’s probably not the best person to ask how male minds function.

When Ana gets home she logs into her email account to check if she has a reply from Christian. She does. It’s like eighteen pages. Front and back. 

He wonders why she has to put a country between them before she can start to be honest about her feelings, and I wonder if anyone, anyone in this novel has considered the fact that Ana is not mature enough to be entering into the agreement she’s signed up for.

“I don’t know how to answer your comment about feeling like a whore,” it says in the letter. “I know that’s not what you’ve written, but it’s what you imply. I don’t know what I can say or do to eradicate these feelings. I’d like you to have the best of everything. I work exceptionally hard, so I can spend my money as I see fit. I could buy you your heart’s desire, Anastasia, and I want to.” So… you want her to completely submit to you in a sexual way, you want to reward her with expensive gifts and a lavish lifestyle, and you don’t want her to feel like a whore. Right, gotcha.



He goes on to say that in a dom/sub relationship, the sub has all the power. I’m not sure if he believes this or is just using it as a tool to convince Ana what she’s doing is fine. “I want to share my lifestyle with you. I have never wanted anything so much,” he says. Interesting choice of words. If this were a romance novel, it would most likely say ‘I want to share my life with you’, but this is a novel about materialistic desires and submitting to powerful men who can provide for them in a financial way. So it’s ‘lifestyle’.

“Holy crap,” thinks Ana. “He’s written an essay like we’re back at school – and most of it good.” Like we’re back at school! Why can’t the references to being a child stop?! There are ways that a woman can be portrayed as innocent and virginal without constantly likening her to an actual child. Ana has a huge epiphany about Christian’s essay and realises that spending four days without him will be sheer hell. She falls asleep at her laptop salivating at the idea of Christian just being his abusive, domineering self. Yech.

When she wakes up, her Mom says that they’re going for dinner. Ana puts on Kate’s grey halter neck dress (KATE’S DRESS. KATE’S. NOT ANA’S, KATE’S. If I was Kate I’d get pretty sick of my best friend not owning a single piece of clothing of her own). She emails Christian a little and they get talking about sex, because there hasn’t been nearly enough about bums and spanking in this chapter so far, and then she heads down for dinner.  

Mom: “You look lovely, dear.”
Ana: “Oh, this is Kate’s dress. You like it?”

FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST WE GET IT, IT’S KATE’S DRESS.



I CAN’T.

There is literally not even any point in the paragraph, except to point out once more that Ana is wearing Kate’s dress. We don’t even get to see what they chat about at dinner because the next moment, Ana is stood in the shower about to get ready for bed. She has an email from Christian she must reply to first. They chat for a while and Christian tells Ana that he is having dinner with an old friend. Predictably, Ana loses her shit. “Searing, green, bilious jealousy courses through me unexpectedly.” She wants them to have a healthy relationship but he’s not allowed to have any friends. Sure, okay, that makes sense.

Ana tries to cool herself down by Googling Christian (as you do) but eventually ends up sending him an email asking if he was having dinner with ‘Mrs Robinson’, his ex-dom.

“Part of me is desperate to know more, and another part wants to forget he ever told me. And my period has started, so I must remember to take my pill in the morning.”



I’m not even kidding, this is how this section of the chapter ends. I get she’s going for realism but THIS IS TOO MUCH.
  
Ana spends the next evening sipping on cocktails with her Mom, who dispenses a lot of great advice about men. And by ‘great’, I mean ‘absolutely fucking useless’. “You see, Ana, men think that anything that comes out of a woman’s mouth is a problem to be solved. Not some vague idea that we’d like to kick around and talk about for a while and then forget.” What?! Try to make sense, I implore you.

When Ana’s Mom goes to the ‘powder room’ (nobody says this anymore), Ana checks her phone to find an email from Christian confirming that yes, he had dinner with his friend and ex-dom, ‘Mrs Robinson’. “I am away for two days, and he runs off to that evil bitch,” muses Ana. It is interesting to note that when Christian is the sub, the woman who played the dom is labelled an ‘evil bitch’; what does that make Christian when he is the dom? In Ana’s eyes, I’d say that makes him fairly evil.

Ana sends a snarky email back, and here’s the kicker. Christian responds saying, “This is not something I wish to discuss via email. How many Cosmopolitans are you doing to drink?”

Holy fuck, he’s here, thinks Ana. MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY.


The man has followed her on her private holiday to visit her mother. He has secretly got on a plane and followed her, possibly for the entire 48 hours she’s been in Georgia so far. He has STALKED HER.



I think we'll finish here for today.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Chapter Twenty One

Chapter Twenty One

The last post ended on a bombshell about Christian's mother being a crack whore. "Holy fuck. What does that mean?" wonders Anastasia. It's nice to see that after a long break, the protagonist is still as gormless and clueless as ever.

What does it mean? I'd wager it means that his mother was a crack whore, as that's what he said. Ana fall asleep and dreams about a little boy with grey eyes and then wakes up. She thinks for a few moments about the utter horror of the revelation that Christian dropped last night, but then gets to thinking about the more important stuff: their relationship.

She has a good old whinge to herself about whether Christian will try to be a real boyfriend or not. "I need to clarify between us to see if we are still at opposite ends on the see-saw or if we are inching closer together." I'm sorry, is this a phrase? It's ludicrous. At first I found the image of them both in a children’s playground, shuffling towards each other on the see-saw, quite funny, but then I realised that we’re back to the child-like descriptions. Yikes.

Ana goes looking for Christian and finds a woman stood in his kitchen; she's described as blonde-haired, blue-eyed and attractive, with a business-like tone. Don't forget - to be a successful female in the 50 Shades universe, you need to be a hot blonde!

"Why does Christian only have attractive blondes working for him?" wonders Ana, as she finds out from the woman that Christian is in his study and sets off to find him. Why, indeed? She enters his study and finds him on his phone, and when he sees her, her smiles a smile that is 'too beautiful for the little people below'. Shut up Ana. E. L. James is such a Tory.

"Good morning, Miss Steele," he says as he finishes on the phone. The whole 'Miss Steele' and 'Mr Grey' thing was a bit of a novelty when they were acquaintances, but they've been having sex all over Seattle for the best part of a month now, you'd think they'd dispense with the cringe-worthy formalities. The author obviously thinks it’s very endearing and an example of the great banter and rapport that they share.

"I just came in to say hi before I had a shower," says Ana. She's crossed his palatial apartment and disturbed him while he was taking an important phone call just to say hello before she gets in the shower. Clingy. Dependent. Scary.

They kiss, and Christian gets all growly: "I suggest you go and have your shower, or I shall lay you across my desk, now." Not even been awake for five minutes, I tell you.

Christian does that awful cliche thing of sweeping everything off his desk with one arm. "You want it, you got it, baby," he says. Urrrrggggghhhhh.

There's another full paragraph about the technicalities of putting on a condom, as though it's a really complicated process and we all need reminding how it's done.

"Oh, Mr Boy Scout," thinks Ana. WHAT?! I don't understand what's just been said. Boy scout? Why? I'm pretty sure that if your significant other had just swept the contents of his desk to the floor and indicated he was going to absolutely ravish you on it, the last thing on your mind would be boy scouts. What a weird thought process.



If you're thinking about this while having sex, you're doing it wrong.

They have sex. It's pretty much like every other time they've previously had sex so far in this book. Lots of groaning, Ana has a mind-blowing orgasm and there's some really bad grammar and upsettingly bad dialogue. For a book about whips and stuff, there sure are a lot of samey sex scenes.

"Come on baby, give it up for me," says Christian. I can't speak for others but if someone said this to me in the heat of the moment, I'd have to respond by vomiting on their face.

They both orgasm and lie on his desk panting for a bit. "Wow... that was unexpected," thinks Ana. Was it? Was it really? We all know that's a lie. They exchange some chat about how much they 'beguile' one another. Disgusting. Again, if any man ever said that I 'beguiled' him, there would be vomit, and it would be on his face.

Ana looks down at the condom packet that's still there on his desk (I wonder if he ever got rid of that one he put in his pocket? I wonder what he's going to do with this one? This is the most enthralling part of the plot). "Always prepared," Ana murmurs. "A man can hope, Anastasia, dream even, and sometimes his dreams come true." That's a bit deep as a response to the observation that he always has a condom on him. The dialogue in this book is so weird. Imagine if someone said that in real life?

Ana goes back to take her shower. She has another whinge about how much she can't understand Christian. "We had sex... and then he wasn't." That is an actual sentence from the book. Please at lease try to make some sense.

Ana has some sort of internal conference with her subconscious and her inner goddess; the three of them all trying to figure it out. "No - we're all clueless," she thinks. Yes, yes we are

She finishes her shower, gets out and puts her hair up. KATE'S PLUM DRESS hangs laundered and ironed in the closet. Kate's dress, don't forget. Kate's plum dress. Ana heads back into the kitchen where she tells the housekeeper she doesn't want anything to eat.

"Of course you'll have something to eat. She likes pancakes, bacon and eggs, Mrs Jones," says Christian, striding in. Then he orders Ana to 'sit', like a dog. I would tell him where he could shove his pancakes.

They start talking about Ana's upcoming trip to Georgia, and Christian offers Ana use of his company jet. Of course he does. At this point, Ana is just arguing with him for the sake of it; she flat out refuses and says she'd rather fork out to fly economy on a scheduled flight. I'm not sure what grounds she's refusing on really. She wants him to open up and be a 'real' boyfriend for her, but she shuts him out when he offers to help her? She sure picks her moments to come over all feminist. I wish she'd have one of those stubborn moments when it comes to signing that damn contract that all but makes her his property.

They get to talking about the job interviews that Ana has later that day. "Are you going to track my phone?" Ana asks. "Actually, I'll be quite busy this afternoon. I'll have to get someone else to do it," replies Christian. He is absolutely not kidding.

Later on, Ana is at her interview for 'Seattle Independent Publishing' with a Mr Jack Hyde. She says it's exactly where she wants to be. The book talks for a while about her surroundings, how excited she is about the job, and then wildly straying from the narrative as is the author’s habit, we’re suddenly talking about Ana’s upcoming trip to Georgia.

“Christian has ordered me to take my BlackBerry and the Mac. I roll my eyes at the memory of his overbearing bossiness, but I realise now that’s just the way he is. He likes control over everything, including me.” Nope, this isn’t okay. Now you’re not even attempting to fight back against his controlling and abusive nature, you’re just accepting it. “He can be tender, good-humored, even sweet.” I’m sure many women say this about their abusive partners when they’re trying to justify staying with them.

Ana gets called in for her interview. “I am wearing one of Kate’s dresses, a black pinafore over a white blouse, and my black pumps.” Another one of KATE’S DRESSES. GOT THAT? KATE’S DRESS. Nothing Ana owns can possibly be considered smart or stylish because she’s just such a hopeless mess. It really is a good job that this rich and powerful man is here to look after her.

Ana meets Jack Hyde, the guy who runs the publishing house. She’s creeped out by him for a reason she can’t describe. Let’s rewind for a second. Ana has taken part in two interviews in the course of the book. One is with Jack, who is rich, powerful, runs his own company, a little creepy, full of innuendo, and with red hair and two earrings. Christian is rich, powerful, runs his own company, a little creepy, full of innuendo and general consensus is that he’s absolutely smoking. What is the difference between these two men? NOTHING. NOT A SINGLE THING. Ana has taken a shine to powerful, creepy Christian because he is hot, and she’s wary of powerful, creepy Jack because he isn’t.

(Incidentally – how long is this chapter?! Really great show of narrative planning here.)

Ana gets the job on the spot (of course she does!) and goes back to the apartment; she’s flying to Georgia in the morning and needs to pack. She runs into Kate, and starts lecturing her about winding up Christian. “Incidentally, will you please stop winding Christian up? Your comment about José at dinner yesterday was out of line. He’s a jealous guy. It doesn’t do any good, you know.” In other words, “Will you please placate my boyfriend because he’s scary and controlling and I don’t know what he’ll do to me if I step out of line.” Eek.

Ana confesses to Kate that she’s really falling for Christian, but that they’ve not been talking so much as ‘non-verbally’ communicating. Kate comes out with this little gem: “That’ll be the sexing! If that’s going well, then that’s half the battle Ana.” Of course, because once you’ve shown a man how good you are in bed, he’s bound to like you! That’s what us girls are primarily here for anyway!

Kate leaves to get Chinese takeout and, within the space of about thirty seconds, Ana manages to convince herself that Christian is having a relationship with his housekeeper, Mrs Jones, because in this world, no man can have a working relationship within a woman without him dragging her into the Womb Room for hanging-from-the-ceiling sex. The email conversation is a bit pointless; Christian tells her nothing is going on between him and his maid and they do that awfully annoying ‘banter’ thing and Christian wishes her a safe flight to Atlanta.

Kate drives the two of them to the airport and when Ana tries to check in, she discovers that her flight has been upgraded. That fucking Christian Grey, upgrading her to first class. What a dick. 


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty

Christian bursts into the boathouse and turns all the lights on. “Fluorescents ping and buzz in sequence as harsh white light floods the large wooden building,” Ana notices. Christian proceeds to carry Ana upstairs, flicking on more lights, ‘halogens this time’. These descriptive skills could do with some work; how many times have you heard of someone walking into a room and the first thing they notice is the potential energy-saving credentials of the light bulbs?

As Christian sets her down, Ana looks at him and notices that he looks like a ‘rare and dangerous predator’ – what, you mean like a vampire? FANFICTION REFERENCE ALERT.

“Please don’t hit me,” Ana pleads. If this is something you routinely say to your other half, please, I beg you, reconsider your relationship. Ana seems to have confused Christian with this request, and while she has him stunned, she starts stroking his stubbly face. Christian seems to enjoy it, and Ana feels brave, so she starts to kiss him. “He tastes divine,” she tells us. I’m quite sure that he doesn’t, he’s just eaten a whole roast dinner and necked some red wine, which can make for stale breath at the best of times.

Christian asks her why she’s kissing him, and seems genuinely confused by it. Apparently the fact that she didn’t want him to grope her at his parents’ dining table led him to believe that she never wanted to have sex with him ever again. Why is everything so dramatic in this book?! No sane person would think this. A sane person would probably just accept the fact that his girlfriend probably didn’t want to engage in sexual activity whilst in the middle of a meal with her new in-laws.

“No one’s ever said no to me before. And it’s so – hot.” Of course Christian would find it a turn-on that someone has said no to him. Why don’t more people understand that this man has seriously abusive tendencies?!

Christian goes on to say that he’s mad at her for a whole load of things (none of which are actually worthy of anger whatsoever); he’s angry that she didn’t tell him that she was going to visit her mum, he’s angry because she went for a drink with her friend and didn’t tell him, and he’s angry because she didn’t let him feel her up at the dinner table.


Bye.

“If you’re not going to let me spank you – which you deserve – I’m going to fuck you on the couch this minute, quickly, for my pleasure, not yours,” he says. Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought that sex was supposed to be a shared experience, causing pleasure for both parties involved. Obviously I’m wrong about that. “He moves suddenly so that his hand is cupping my sex.” If you’re going to write a grown-up story, please use the grown-up words. “This is mine,” he whispers aggressively. “All mine. Do you understand?” Oh, lovely. Just lovely. This really is the romance of the century.

“We don’t have long. This will be quick, and it’s for me, not you. Do you understand? Don’t come, or I will spank you,” says Christian. Yep, I can definitely see why this fictional character would have women queuing up outside his door. Sounds like a right treat.

There’s yet another paragraph voted to Christian tearing open a foil packet and putting a condom on, as though it needs a thorough explanation every time.

“Don’t touch yourself,” Christian says when he’s finished. “I want you frustrated. That’s what you do to me by not talking to me, by denying me what’s mine.” What’s yours? Tell me, ladies: would it turn you on if a man told you that he had claimed your vagina and it was now his? My vagina is mine, thank you very much.

Christian stands up, takes off his condom, ties a knot in the end of it and puts it in his pocket. So just bear in mind, the next time there’s a mention of smouldering grey eyes or his sexy jawline, that there will be a half-full sack of semen squashed into the pocket of his jeans for the remainder of this chapter. Remember when Christian came to visit Ana and threw his used condom on the floor? Doesn’t anyone in this book own a bin? Has Christian forgotten that they’re in a boathouse and he could quite easily just chuck it in the grass and hope that one of his family’s gardeners finds it? Does his really have to carry his own spunk around in his pocket?!

It seems that Christian has stowed his love-juice just in time; minutes later, Mia appears on the lower floor of the boathouse. “CHRISTIAN!” she yells. Jesus, she’s annoying. She’s come to tell them that Kate and Elliot are leaving so they should all say goodbye. “What have you two been doing in here?” she asks, her eyes narrowing. What a dim girl. She should check Christian’s pockets if she really wants to know the answer to that.

They go back into the house and say goodbye to Kate and Elliot. Ana wants to know why Kate kept antagonising Christian. “He needs antagonising, then you can see what he’s really like,” Kate says. I don’t approve of her methods but I agree with her point. “I KNOW WHAT HE’S REALLY LIKE – YOU DON’T!” Ana screams in her head, in caps.

Christian says that they’d better head off because Ana has her interviews tomorrow (oh right! Those interviews!) and there’s a whole sickening goodbye sequence where his parents gush over Ana and say how pleased they are that Christian has finally found someone. Vomit.

They get into the Audi and Taylor, who has been waiting for them outside the whole time, drives them home. During the journey, Ana has another mood swing and completely convinces herself that Christian never really wanted her at the dinner, and that he only invited her because he had to. Readers, does Christian Grey strike you as a man who would do something because he felt like he had to? No, me neither. But Ana, who proclaimed (in all caps) to know this man very well mere paragraphs earlier, thinks he would.

“Why are you so filled with self-doubt? It never ceases to amaze me,” says Christian. “You’re such a strong, self-contained young woman, but you have such negative thoughts about yourself.” Haha, really? Turns out that Christian doesn’t know Ana that well either.

At this point, Christian asks whether he can come with Ana to see her mother in Georgia. This would be a great point for me to stop and just reiterate that these two have known each other for less than a month and have been seeing each other for around two weeks. Fourteen days.

What follows is the most mindless conversation I’ve ever seen published. It goes like this:
C: “Are you laughing at me, Miss Steele?”
A: “I wouldn’t dare, Mr. Grey.”
C: “I think you dare, and I think you do laugh at me, frequently.”
A: “You are quite funny.”
C: “Funny?”
A: “Oh yes.”
C: “Funny peculiar or funny ha ha?”
A: “Oh… a lot of one and some of the other.”
C: “Which way round?”
A: “I’ll leave you to figure that out.”

What are they even talking about?! The most amazing books are the ones where not a single word is wasted; every syllable is laden with meaning, and contributes to the story or to some form of character development. And then you get these two fucking nits taking up an entire page with this nonsense, saying everything and yet saying absolutely nothing at all of worth.


Me reading this book.

Talk turns to Ana still wanting ‘more’ from this relationship. More than him taking her on a helicopter tour of Seattle at night, more than him doing things he’s never done for any woman before, more than meeting his family within two weeks. How much more is there?! She contemplates the fact that she loves him, but his mood swings and ‘scary vices’ put her off.

“This man, whom I once thought of as a romantic hero – a brave shining white knight, or the dark knight as he said. He’s not a hero, he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark. Can I not guide him into the light?” Ana, if you’re so intent on changing him, you don’t love Christian, you obviously love the idea of what Christian could be. Important difference.

Ana, who didn’t want Christian to touch her leg at the dinner table, clearly has no problem with climbing all over him while Taylor is up front in the driving seat. She unbuckles her seat belt and throws herself at him, promising to sign his stupid contract in a spur of the moment decision after a few glasses of wine. Wise.

When they get back to Christian’s apartment, it becomes increasingly obvious that they’re going to have sex again. So far in this one day, that’s a few times in the Womb Room, once in the boathouse and now again at the apartment. Four or five times in a day. Is this normal? No, I’m genuinely asking, because if it is, I’ve been getting conned my whole life.

Ana says that she doesn’t want to fuck. She wants to make love. Doesn’t she remember what Christian said, when he was wearing his sexy ripped jeans?



I don't make love. I fuck, hard.

Christian is absolutely bewildered by this suggestion. Things start to turn sour: Christian literally says no to making love, and says that Ana touching him, especially on his chest, is a hard limit. Ana nags him a little, but he throws her a t-shirt and tells her to get into bed. There’s a little interlude where they go and brush their teeth and don’t talk about anything much. It’s really pointless, as is much of this book.

Ana asks how Christian would feel if the tables were turned and he couldn’t touch her. It’s a fair point, but she’s setting herself up for something dangerous by questioning his hard limits. Surely he doesn’t have to give reasons for them? That’s the point of a hard limit – you don’t need to justify it. Does she need a reason why she doesn’t want to try anal fisting? No, of course not. She should just accept that it’s a hard limit for him and if she doesn’t like it, she knows where the door is. God, it’s so hard to decide whose side I’m on in this book. I think I’m actually on my own side, the side of sanity, the side of good literature and humanity in general.

Ana, in a moment of pure genius, tells Christian that if he tells her why touching him is a hard limit, she’ll let him spank her again. What a great bargain. This will end well. Who’s using sex as a weapon now?

Christian goes and retrieves some Ben Wa balls, which he wants to put inside her while he spanks her. Again, this is a girl who lost her virginity not two weeks ago. Has the man got no concept of taking things slowly? He tells her to put them in her mouth, then has her bend over while he puts them inside her.

He tells her to go and get a drink of water from the kitchen and, naturally, by the time she comes back, she’s ‘needy, needy for sex’. There’s something new, I don’t think we’ve seen ‘needy’ Ana yet. She returns with her water and notices that ‘there’s a foil packet, ready and waiting, like me’. Did Ana just liken herself to a condom packet? Will we ever find out whether Christian got rid of that condom that was in his pocket? Is it still there? Does his maid deal with that kind of thing? I can’t stop thinking about it, this condom side-plot is more riveting than the actual story.


He spanks her while she has the balls inside her. It’s actually exceedingly vanilla. Nothing too hard, not even any naughty words. Ana says that she’s lost in a ‘quagmire’ of sensation.


This is a quagmire. Looks like fun.

He pulls the balls out after a few minutes and they have sex. It’s boring, to be honest. Nothing we haven’t read before, and a completely superfluous, unnecessary scene. A desperate attempt to shoehorn a bit more sex into this chapter.

Just as they’re falling asleep, Christian follows through on his promise to tell Ana about why touching is a hard limit. “The woman who brought me into this world was a crack-whore, Anastasia. Go to sleep,” he says. Okay, cool, good chatting with you, goodnight.

Orgasm count: one for Ana, two for Christian.

TBC!

This chapter was boring as hell to read, and to write, so I tried to liven it up with some funny pictures. That's what I've resorted to. It's not even funny anymore, it's just tragic.